Creamy wild mushroom and parsnip soup [Photo/The New York Times]
2 tablespoons butter
2 medium onions, sliced, about 2 cups
2 small parsnips, peeled and chopped
1 small carrot, peeled and chopped
1 thyme branch, plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth, more if necessary
2 tablespoons chopped dried morel or porcini mushrooms, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes, then drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 pound chanterelles or other wild or cultivated mushrooms, in roughly 1/8-inch slices
2 garlic cloves, minced
6 slices day-old baguette
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Crème fraîche, optional.
1. Melt the butter in a deep heavy-bottomed soup pot over medium heat. Add the onions, parsnips, carrot, thyme branch and bay leaf. Season generously with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 10 minutes
2. Add the broth and the soaked dried mushrooms. Bring to a boil, then adjust the heat to a gentle simmer.
3. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil over high heat in a wide skillet. When the oil is hot, add the chanterelles, stirring with a wooden spoon, allowing them to brown a bit. Season with salt and pepper, then turn the heat to medium and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, until the mushrooms are cooked through. Add the garlic and thyme leaves and cook 1 minute more.
4. Transfer 1/2 cup of the cooked chanterelles to a small skillet and add the rest to the soup. Let the pot simmer until the parsnips and carrot are quite tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
5. Discard the bay leaf and thyme branch. Purée the soup in a blender and strain through a fine-meshed sieve. Thin with more broth if it is too thick, and correct the seasoning. Keep hot.
6. Warm the reserved mushrooms. Toast the baguette slices lightly and put a spoonful of mushrooms on each.
7. Ladle the hot soup into bowls. Top each bowl with a mushroom toast, a little chopped parsley, and a drizzle of crème fraîche if you like.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings.